EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Despite spraining his right ankle "pretty good," New York Giants safety Antrel Rolle expects to be ready for the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys.
The Giants didn't have a timetable for Rolle's return, but coach Tom Coughlin was more optimistic about having his leading tackler the past two seasons back
"I hope he comes back next week," Coughlin said Tuesday after practice. "Why would I talk about week one."
Wearing a protective boot on his foot, Rolle made it clear that he does not like being hurt and that he will do everything in his power to play quickly.
"I hate missing even a practice, being out there with my teammates, my brothers," said Rolle, who has not missed a game in three seasons with the Giants. "This is very hard for me to accept but at the same time, I have to be smart about it. I am going to push myself because that is just who I am. I push myself with everything that I do to try to be out there with my guys as soon as possible."
Rolle was hurt when his feet became tangled with tight end Bear Pascoe during a sideline pass on a 7-on-7 drill on Monday. The 30-year-said the injury happened before he jumped for the pass, with his ankle rolling both to the inside and outside.
"To be honest, I didn't really know what to expect," Rolle said. "I am not the kind of guy that likes to lay on the field no matter what the injury is. I tried to get up and walk off but I just couldn't bear it. I couldn't bear it to do it. Did I think it was worse? Possibly just because I heard a couple of popping sounds in my ankle. I think it was just part of my ankle rolling, it was just cracking. Just thank God it is nothing too severe, nothing I can't work through with just a little bit of time and hard work. "
A nine-year veteran Rolle is the leader of the secondary. He had a career-high 108 tackles last season and was a constant voice trying to make sure his teammates were on the same page.
Ryan Mundy, the five-year veteran who is working with the first team since the injury, said Rolle talked to the defensive backs Tuesday morning, telling them to keep working and he would be back.
"He's one of the building blocks," defensive co-ordinator Perry Fewell said of Rolle. "He's a brick. He's always there. He's tough. He's the mortar that seals us. His presence is always valuable for us."
Mundy spent the past four seasons with Pittsburgh, serving as the backup to Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu. He signed with the Giants as a free agent in the off-season and made an impression early in training camp with a hit on Ryan Torain that gave the running back a concussion.
It also was a hit that drew the ire of Coughlin.
"I have a reputation for hitting people, but my time in Pitt, I did whatever I was asked to do," said Mundy, who intercepted a deep pass to Rueben Randle in practice. "If Troy was out of the game, I was playing strong safety. If Ryan Clark was out of the game, I was playing free safety. That's just been my whole approach. Whatever I need to do to help the team out, I'm more than willing to do it.
Mundy said that he is still learning the defence but he is confident he'll get it down.
Coughlin has confidence in Mundy, but he is also expecting Rolle to be ready sooner than later.
"He doesn't like to miss anything," Coughlin said. "Quite frankly, if he can avoid it, he misses nothing."
NOTES: Second-year CB Jayron Hosley had a good practice, knocking down passes by Eli Manning and David Carr and intercepting one thrown by Curtis Painter. ....Former Dallas linebacker Dan Connor is starting to share some of the first-team snaps at middle linebacker with Mark Herzlich. ...Fourth-round draft pick Ryan Nassib made one of his better throws of training camp, hitting Kevin Hardy on a deep go pattern with cornerback Charles James defending. ...Rookie S Cooper Taylor says his injured hamstring is getting better but he does not know when he will be back practicing. ...